The Peculiar Truth about Boeing Wonderland
- After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States entered World War II.
- Airplane manufacturing ramped up to help win the war. Several of the nation’s aircraft factories existed on the West Coast.
- Douglas Aircraft had a plant in Santa Monica, CA. Boeing had a plant in Seattle. Lockheed’s plant was in Burbank, currently the site of Bob Hope Airport.
- Fears were raised that those locations along the Pacific Coast might be vulnerable to Japanese air attacks.
- As a result, the facilities were disguised to fool aerial reconnaissance.
- An airplane pilot flying overhead would see a typical suburban neighborhood with streets, trees, shrubs, parked cars, and modest homes.
- They were fake.
- Netting, tarps, burlap, and scaffolding were strewn over the roofs of the airplane manufacturing plants. Green paint simulated lawns. Black paint simulated streets.
- Lightweight structures were built to seem like houses, yet they often stood no more than six feet tall.
- Trees were constructed out of wire and feathers. Bushes were built from burlap.
- Blocks of wood were stacked on the virtual streets to look like parked cars, most just two feet high. In some locations, rubber replicas were used. People would “park” them occasionally on different streets to make it seem as if the fake vehicles had been driven.
- From high in the sky, the factories couldn’t be detected.
- No Japanese aircraft attacked the mainland in those locations, but camouflage was a wise precaution.
- Workers at the aircraft plants never discussed the secret for security purposes. Neither did nearby residents. Even after the war ended and the disguises were dismantled, the information was rarely mentioned in the press.
- But to those in the know, the fake neighborhood on the roof of the Seattle wartime plant was called Boeing Wonderland.
Dan is the author of over a dozen novels. His latest is Tight Five.